It's been "Les Miserables" week in Hollywood. Hugh Jackman finally earned his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Universal mounted a gala premiere and festive Spago afterparty, and finally screened the musical for the Academy voters on Saturday. It played well, to a standing ovation–natch, director Tom Hooper and his stars were there: Jackman, Anne Hathaway, and musical newcomer Eddie Redmayne. (My notes from the first screening and early reviews are here.)
London theater vet Redmayne ("Red," "Richard II") has grown up onscreen since his 2006 movie debut in "The Good Shepherd," where he picked up acting tips from director Robert De Niro. He held his own with Helen Mirren six years ago on the set of Tom Hooper's "Elizabeth I" –where he had to learn to ride a horse after insisting he already knew how. And he romanced Michelle Williams as Marilyn Monroe in last year's "My Week with Marilyn."
Redmayne, who is 30, landed the role of Marius despite not having sung for 12 years. And he delivers a breakout performance. He borrowed something he learned from De Niro in order to better match the intensity of one take of the song to the other–he'd perform it three times in a row without stopping. Hooper shot 21 takes on his "Empty Chairs at Empty Tables." I met him the afternoon before the "Les Mis" premiere at a hotel on the Sunset strip overlooking the city; he took me out on the balcony for a picture.
He's in demand now, as the next young Brit leading man. He could land a supporting nod. You'll see him everywhere–he's playing his cards close as the studios woo him, if not for the "Spider-Man" sequel, maybe the Wachowskis' "Jupiter Ascending"…